Call me a child of commercialisation, but when I was growing up, I would see all those Christmas dinners on the shows that I watched, from Garfield to Gremlin to Sesame Street to even those sitcoms that bored the hell out of me otherwise... and I would secretly crave for a proper Christmas dinner.
Now you'll probably have guessed that I was very much enthusiastic about food even at a very tender age, and all those scenes with roast turkeys and cranberry sauce and Christmas puddings just made me salivate. It was frustrating, craving all those things, when I come from a family which prefers Chinese cuisine over everything else, and a mother who's not exactly the biggest fan of cooking.
Since then I've had the opportunity to try a wide variety of food, with the places I've visited over the years, and have broadened my palate by almost recklessly throwing myself into the experience of new flavours and textures. Helps that Kuching now boasts more and more good restaurants promoting international cuisine. That said, traditional Christmas dinners still hold a special place in my heart, and because of that, I was mad excited when BCCK invited me to yet another Christmas food tasting this year.
Last year's Christmas offering by BCCK was in the form of set meals and buffets, but this year they've decided to only give the option of a Christmas buffet spread, but what a festive spread it is! And as much as I tried, I didn't manage to taste everything, so I'll just post on the highlights of that meal.
Anyway, the moment I set foot into the restaurant, my attention was immediately drawn by the pastry section of the buffet:
Gorgeous Christmas cakes and cookies - so festive and pretty, I spent a good five minutes gaping at them before remembering to check out the rest of the food.
The obligatory appetizers were present, as usual. Nice little mouthfuls to whet your appetite, consisting of everything from classic English potato salad to marinated oyster mushrooms with balsimico and smoked sausages. I didn't try any of them as I have very little stomach space to spare, but I thought they really did make visually interesting treats to stimulate the appetite.
I don't know why but I was pretty excited by the cheese platter. Not the most extensive selection of cheeses but decent enough. A nice chunk of blue cheese was offered, unfortunately most of the diners balked at it. More for me! And there's a pretty good selection of breads, crackers, and dried fruits to be served along with it.
There was a whole poached salmon too that evening. It got snapped up pretty quickly. Unfortunately, I wasn't too impressed with it, because it wasn't as fresh as I wanted it to be.
I want to interject here that the pan-seared fish fillet with capers beurre blanc which I seem to have neglected to snap a shot of fell slightly short of my expectations too. The sauce it came served in was good, but the fish itself was over-cooked and could've been fresher. Quite a shame, because I really loved the tartness of the sauce which would've been perfect with the fish, if it hadn't been so tough.
That aside, the steamed chicken roulade was really amazing. Done perfectly, and unexpectedly flavoursome, it was one of the few dishes offered that was relatively un-greasy and not rich at all. I really regret I didn't have more than just a piece but I was adamant I would try EVERY dish available, or at least try most of it.
One of the dishes that was prominently featured on the promotion poster for the Christmas buffet was this Santa's favourite rice:
While it wasn't bad-tasting, it wasn't very outstanding either. That said, some of the guys loved it and I'm sure it'll be a hit among those who require at least a little bit of rice in their meals.
I was just strolling past some of the other dishes on display when this caught my attention... buttered brussels sprouts!
Now brussels sprouts can be a little tricky to prepare. Like many members of the brassica family, they can develop a rather distinct flavour if overcooked, one that some find repellent. Also, with the introduction of heat, they can rapidly become grey and mushy - not exactly appetizing. These weren't the consistency of paste and not over-powering in flavour, and the butter really helped with enhancing the taste, so I quite happily had four of them.
I think the star of the evening was this, the coq au vin, which is basically rooster braised in wine:
I actually almost forgot to sample it, and almost walked right past it, when a fellow diner loudly exclaimed to me how much he loved it and insisted I try it. I'm glad he did... it was a gorgeous explosion of meaty flavours combined with the savoury sweetness of vegetables finished with the distinct aroma of Mediterranean herbs. And did I mention how fall-off-the-bone tender the chicken was? It was beautiful.
Found out that my friend, Rasyiq was manning the pastry stall. He was tasked with preparing a choice of spaghetti, penne, or fettuccine with either bolognese sauce or napolitana sauce.
I opted for the penne in bolognese sauce, and this was what I was served (with a big happy smile):
Very, very generous with the beef, they are!
Oh, and as expected, I got quite excited by the sight of this:
Yes, the Christmas turkey! For a moment I was engulfed in that fuzzy warm feeling of contentment as the chef carved generous chunks of the bird onto my plate.
I had it with some cranberry sauce, of course. And it was pretty good. It wasn't dry at all; in fact, it was almost juicy. =)
They also have a really good roast leg of lamb - I thought I snapped a shot of that, but apparently I didn't. I would highly recommend that too. I'll say, one thing Raintree Restaurant does quite well is the roasted meats and pastries. Any meal incorporating both of those usually turns out to be a winner.
Oh, and there was lobster bisque. LOBSTER BISQUE. I'm still feeling so, so sorry for myself, for only spotting this when I was already close to being disgustingly stuffed:
Remorse at the lack of ability to consume obscene amounts of food seems to be the theme of this meal, it seems.
I did try very valiantly to sample everything in the Christmas sweeties sections, beginning with the fruit-cake and ginger-bread...
... to the crème caramel...
... to the warm English bread and butter pudding...
... served with vanilla sauce...
I'm not a fan of sweet stuff, but I just HAD to have at least a bite of all of that. I really appreciated that everyone could have one or more of those adorable little Christmas puddings which were packed full of fruits and nuts, but the one I had last year was better, very dense and moist.
However, the puddings weren't what I got really fixated on this time round. This was actually what I was looking forward to trying:
Christmas stollen! I'd never heard of stollen until I was going through the promotional material for this event. Turned out it's a really yummy cross between bread and fruit-cake. It's a very European traditional Christmas offering, because BCCK's CEO, Mr. Paul D'Arcy happens to be married to a German lady. Pretty glad to have been introduced to a new Christmas treat. =)
Also comes as a marzipan-filled version:
It's a little on the sweet side, but really nice and fruity. Would've gone gorgeously pair with a scoop of ice-cream, and if I wasn't running out of stomach space so quickly I might have done so.
And there was this Swiss fruit tart which I really liked, because it was filled with juicy whole cherries. Love!
Don't forget to ask for a cup of coffee to end your meal at BCCK. They use very fragrant Sarawakian coffee-beans, which is brewed to perfection. The staff here make a mean cafe latte and cappuccino, opt for those if black coffee isn't quite your cuppa.
This is my black coffee...
It was a really lovely note to end the dinner on... =)
This Christmas buffet will take place at Raintree Restaurant from the 21st to 26th of December. At RM72 nett for adults and RM30 nett for children, I do think it's quite value for money, considering the range of yummy holiday-themed edibles offered.
There will be a Christmas brunch served on Christmas day itself, which will be priced at RM55 for adults and RM27 for children.
To ensure that you won't have to fight a whole bunch of other foodies for a table, you may reach Raintree Restaurant at 082 392 888 for reservations and/or enquiries.
Thanks Mike, for the invite! Am now actually contemplating if I should got back for a second round of all those chrimassy confections on Christmas Day itself...